HC Deb 28 January 2004 vol 417 cc420-1W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures are in place to aid the employees of garment factories in Central America who are exploited by their employers. [150346]

Mr. Gareth Thomas

There are two sets of measures in place to try to assist employees of garment factories in Central America. First, in a range of Central America countries governments have in place, national Competitiveness Programmes. In Nicaragua for example, this Programme is supported through the World Wide Response on Apparel Production (WRAP), and funded by the World Bank. It aims to put in place codes of conduct that include labour standards. Second, US retailers, the main purchasers of garments from the Central American garment or "maquilla" industry, are under pressure from northern consumers to conform to these codes and many are including monitoring of such codes as part of contractual agreements with wholesale garment producers, as well as spot checks in factories. In such cases lack of compliance is subject to sanctions by the retail purchasers.

During 2003 DFID Central America supported a national level workshop in Nicaragua to enable government, private sector and civil society to discuss national codes. This was the first time in Central America that institutions involved in the setting, operating and monitoring of codes had all met to debate this issue.

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